"A train running on rails is better than a train not running at all"
Rewatching Detective Conan: The Fourteenth Target and Detective Conan: Lost Ship in the Sky with people of the Mystery Club didn't change my opinion about the movies, but it sure was fun to watch those movies with foreknowledge, which led to amusing comments and shared feelings. The sounds of sorrow and pain when inspector Megure first appeared in The Fourteenth Target were priceless. Oh, and people who remember every person in the keyholes at the back of every volume are amazing. And never underestimate the international power of Super Smash Bros.
Anyway, I was surprised in the weekend by the sudden early release of Conan 76, but I had also forgotten that the first volume of Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo ("The Casefiles of Young Kindaichi") was also released last weekend. First volume, you ask? Surely I reviewed it earlier this year, you say. Or you might even point out that the first volume of the series was released quite some time ago. 20 years to be exact.
something like this). The brand name suggest that this serialization might only run in this anniversary year, but who knows, it might continue for some years like the original series too!
Kindaichi Hajime's return to the world of regular serialization starts with Hitokui Kenkyuujo Satsujin Jiken ("The Human Eating Lab Murder Case"), which brings us back to familar grounds (especially compared to last year's adventure, which was a bit different). Hajime and Miyuki go visit an old middle school friend of theirs, Midorigawa Mayu, who is now the (very young!) head of a research laboratory. The lab is located in Hitokui Village, also known as Nostalgia Village, because it is like times stood still in this village. From the buildings to the cars and the public phones, everything seems it is from the post-war Showa period. In fact, the town actually manages to attract tourists because everything is still so well preserved.
Mayu invited Hajime and Miyuki to ask them for help in solving a code her father left her before he commited suicide many years ago, when he was the head of the lab. It seems that the laboratory has a strange history related to suicides: the suicide of Mayu's father was one in a series of several suicides and suicide attempts and this would hardly be a Kindaichi Shounen story if the suicide chains wouldn't start again, right? Someone jumping off the building, another hanging himself inside a locked room... What is making these people commit suicide? Is the location itself, Hitokui Lab, which can be interpreted as Man-Eating Lab, maybe the catalyst here?
As Kindaichi Shounen story, this is really a classic set-up. A visit to a friend that ends up in murder? A isolated location far away from the outside world? Locked rooms and other impossible crimes? Suggestion of the supernatural? It's all here and it feels good. The story is not completed yet in this volume (a major con of publications of regularly serialized material!), so I can't comment too much on the whole story, but it feels familiar. In a good way. I don't familiar in the sense of 'I've seen that trick in another story' or anything like that, just familiar because this is what I expect from the series. Some tricks might seem more suitable to Tantei Gakuen Q than Kindaichi Shounen and the interesting setting of Nostalgia Village is thrown away quickly for more focused view on the the rather bland Hitokui Lab (with a lot of shots of different white research rooms and keys which are kept in all kinds of places), which was a shame. I did find it amusing to see that there was no man running around dressed as a monster this time and that the research laboratory itself was presented as the 'murderer'. That would have been more suitable for a Opera House story!
And now to wait until October for the new volume! Really happy that the series is running regularly again, but I wish I could avoid having to wait for the conclusion of the story...
Original Japanese title(s): 天樹征丸、さとうふみや 『金田一少年の事件簿 20周年記念シリーズ』第1巻